Alumnae accolades, recognition pile up like snowdrifts on a Carolina quad

This week, foot-high winter snowfall behind us, we here at the UNC Hussman School of Journalism and Media are basking in the warm glow of good news about the soaring career trajectories and heartwarming accolades recently received by some of our esteemed graduates.

Five alumnae to consider:

Robyn Tomlin ’96Robyn Tomlin ’96, managing editor of The Dallas Morning News, is soon to become the top editor of The News & Observer in Raleigh, North Carolina. McClatchy made the announcement on Friday, Jan. 12. As regional editor, Tomlin will be responsible for the seven Carolina papers affiliated with McClatchy. Tomlin was a student journalist at The Daily Tar Heel and worked full-time while raising her son as a single mother during her years at Carolina. She transferred into the Hussman School from community college, and her son was known to accompany her to the DTH offices while she worked. Tomlin told Margaret Sullivan, media columnist for The Washington Post, that one of her directions at the N&O will be a more efficient use of staff, using a regional approach and economies of scale.

Kat Downs ’06Kat Downs ’06 is being promoted to director of product at The Washington Post. A Wednesday, Jan. 10, announcement from the Post’s Executive Editor Martin Baron and Managing Editor Emilio Garcia-Ruz noted that “Kat’s passion, creativity and determination fueled her spectacular rise,” and called Downs “one of the newsroom’s most transformative leaders over the past five years.” Downs joined the Post in 2008 from The Baltimore Sun. Starting out as information designer, she has taken on increasingly challenging leadership positions as innovations editor for graphics; interactive projects editor; deputy director; director of graphics; and now director of product.

Grace Raynor ’15Grace Raynor ’15 was named the National Sports Media Association’s South Carolina Sportswriter of the Year on Monday, Jan. 5, alongside Scott Keepfer of the Greenville News. Hussman School Associate Professor Andy Bechtel interviewed Raynor in 2017 about her new position at The Post and Courier, and asked her about reporting on Clemson’s victory over the Alabama Crimson Tide in the NCAA football championship game that year. “From a journalistic standpoint, it was the ultimate adrenaline rush,” she told Bechtel. "It was an 8:17 p.m. kickoff; for print deadline purposes, my first story was due 15 minutes after the game ended, and then the game came down [to] the literal last second. It was stressful at times when I had to adjust so quickly after that last touchdown, but also such a rush that it’s a moment I’ll never forget.” (Pictured: Raynor reporting from the field at the NCAA football championship in 2017, which Clemson went on to win)

Tarini Parti ’12Tarini Parti ’12 was named White House correspondent for BuzzFeed News on Thursday, Jan. 4, replacing Adrian Carrasquillo. Business Insider quotes BuzzFeed’s Washington bureau chief Kate Nocera in an internal email: “[Parti]’s also an ultimate team player and has crucially contribute to a ton of smart team coverage from Alabama, to Capitol Hill, to reported analysis on Trump.” In 2017, Parti spoke with Dean Susan King about her work on Capitol Hill with BuzzFeed and Politico. Her interest in political reporting lead her to an internship at Politico as a Carolina student. That internship lead to a reporting job with Politico, before she moved to BuzzFeed for the opportunity to write for a more general audience. (Pictured: Parti interviewing members of Congress in Washington, D.C.)

Nikole Hannah-Jones ’03 (M.A.)Nikole Hannah-Jones ’03 (M.A.), a former Park Fellow now working with The New York Times Magazine, was recognized in January 2018 by UNC-Chapel Hill by naming a scholarship in her honor. The scholarship is an existing need-based award for incoming students — one of 19 "Bridge Builders" scholarship opportunities. Hannah-Jones is also a recipient of one of 24 prestigious 2017 MacArthur Foundation “genius grants” awarded worldwide. The MacArthur Fellowship was given in support of her deeply researched work focusing on endemic racism in housing and education. A five-year “no strings attached” stipend gives Hannah-Jones the flexibility to pursue her work in the absence of specific obligations or reporting requirements. “It’s really important for other young journalists of color to see someone like me. What has been so satisfying is all day on Twitter, all these young journalists — who don’t even know me, and I don’t know them — who talk about how inspiring my career has been for them,” Hannah-Jones told her colleague Jake Silverstein two days after the Wednesday, Oct. 11, 2017 announcement. (Pictured: Hannah-Jones delivering the 2017 Hussman School Commencement Address)